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    What Is a Domestic Violence Lease Addendum?

    On October 5, 2010, the Governor of Michigan signed into law Public Act 199 of 2010 which was Senate Bill 185. This new law was enacted to permit victims of domestic violence to terminate their leases based upon certain facts and circumstances. We encourage you to read the law in its entirety here. The law is to be placed at MCL 554.601b, as part of the Landlord-Tenant Relationships Act and applies to leases entered into or renewed after the October 5th date.

    In summary, the statute states where there is “…a reasonable apprehension of present danger to the tenant or his or her child from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking while that person is a tenant” the landlord will release the tenant from the obligation to pay rent, provided the tenant submits written notice to the landlord by certified mail. There are many other stipulations that must also be met by the circumstances for the statute to apply (see below).

    The release from the obligation to pay rent is effective on the first day of the second month after the tenant gives notice and is effective only if the tenant vacates the premises. The release does not require the landlord to return any prepaid rents and the landlord may process the security deposit pursuant to statute.

    In addition to the written notice, the tenant must submit written documentation consisting of at least one of the following:

    • A valid PPO or foreign (from another state) protection order or an order removing an abusive person from a home under the Juvenile Code. The order must be in effect at the time of the submittal.
    • A valid probation order, conditional release order or parole order (still in effect at the time of submittal) that imposes conditions to protect the tenant or the tenant’s child, including a no contact order.
    • A written police report that resulted in charges no more than 14 days before the submittal of the notice and the documentation.
    • A written police report that resulted in charges more than 14 days before the submittal of the notice and documentation if accompanied by a form demonstrating a verifiable threat (the format and substance of the form are detailed in the statute) along with a report verified by a qualified third party (sexual assault or domestic violence counselor, licensed health professional, mental health professional, member of the clergy).

     
    Leases may contain the following provision: “A tenant who has a reasonable apprehension of present danger to him or her or his or her child from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking may have special statutory rights to seek a release of rental obligation under MCL 554.601b.” If the lease contains the provision, the language should be exact. If the lease DOES NOT contain the provision, the landlord must either post this language in a written notice in the management office visible to a reasonable person or deliver written notice of this language to the tenant at the time the lease is signed, typically via a Domestic Violence Lease Addendum.

    The statute limits the distribution of the vacating tenant’s forwarding address and provides that other tenants jointly and severally liable under the lease are not released from the obligation to pay rent.

    The law protects an individual who is in imminent danger and prevents the abuse by those who are not in danger while preserving the rental housing industry’s ability to maintain their business practices.

     

    Disclosure: This Knowledge Base article is accurate as of the last update. Laws and policies are subject to change. If you have any questions, please call the office. Click here for contact information.